But banning the sale of assault weapons will probably not stop another Newtown massacre any more than an earlier ban prevented the Columbine shootings -- unless the federal government is prepared to enter American homes and confiscate millions of previously purchased semi-automatic and assault weapons. Steps toward a far more realistic solution -- jawbone Hollywood to quit romanticizing gratuitous cruelty and violence; censor sick, macabre video games; restrict some freedoms of the mentally ill; and put armed security guards into the schools -- are as much an anathema to civil libertarians as the banning of some guns is a panacea. So we pontificate while waiting for the next massacre.
In February, the European Union grandly announced a second -- and last -- 130 billion-euro bailout of Greece and an apparent solution to the southern European debt crisis. But the year ended with Greece never poorer and never more indebted. The proper solution was never band-aiding Greece with some German euros, but rather asking why under the EU system had Greece -- and other Mediterranean EU members -- been allowed to become so indebted for so long in the first place.
On June 30, supposed reformist Mohamed Morsi was sworn in as president of a new democratic Egypt amid grand talk of the Arab Spring. But in November, Morsi, as a good Islamist, hounded out of office his secular rivals in the judiciary and suspended the rule of law. And days ago, by popular vote, Morsi oversaw the implementation of the Muslim Brotherhood's version of Sharia Law as the basis of the new Egyptian constitution. Given the chaos of Libya and Syria, and the murder of Americans in Benghazi, the cruel winter of 2012 has now ended the dreamy Arab Spring of 2011.
As the year ends, there are ominous signs of impending financial implosion at home. Abroad, we see a soon-to-be nuclear Iran, an even more unhinged nuclear North Korea, a new Islamic coalition against Israel, a bleeding European Union, and a more nationalist Germany and Japan determined to achieve security apart from the old but increasingly suspect U.S. guarantees.
The year 2012 should have taught us that dreaming is no answer to reality; 2013 will determine how well we learned that lesson.